POMEROY — The Meigs County Commissioners recognized April as Autism Awareness Month during last week’s regular meeting.
Katie Anderson with Early Intervention through the Meigs County Department of Job and Family Services spoke to the commissioners about the services, or lack thereof, available to children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who live in Meigs County.
Anderson was joined by Melanie Sheets who is the mother of two children with ASD.
Anderson and Sheets explained that there is a need for education and training within the county for providers and the community as a whole. While there is training available for daycare providers, it is not something that is mandated or made available through the online resources like the required trainings.
Currently, Sheets’ children receive services through Haugland Learning Center-Athens which is based in Albany. Haugland provides services to individuals and families in classroom-based programs and through a range of services, including, speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, ABA behavioral consulting, mental health services, home respite, counseling and supportive treatment. Haugland recently opened up their Pre-K program to Meigs County children and provides home services in the county.
There are 54 individuals in Meigs County diagnosed with ASD and receiving services through the county schools, adult programs and Early Intervention.
In the state of Ohio, there are 21,213 individuals age 18 months to 21 years of age who have been diagnosed with ASD, according to the proclamation signed by the Commissioners.
ASD represents a broad group of disorders that vary widely from mild to severe, and is characterized by difficulty with social interaction, communication, severely limited interests, repetitive and obsessive behaviors.
Coming from the medical field, this is near and dear to my heart, said Commissioner Jimmy Will, of recognizing those with autism.
The April 25 Meigs County Commissioner meeting will be held at 11 a.m. at the Chester Courthouse.
Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.